by Gwee Li Sui
Mr and Mrs Lim used to read well-loved classics
To little Charlotte to sow the seeds of aesthetics.
At five, she would fly to the Literature section
Of a library and soon – to great expectation –
She was reading the poets, some verses from each one.
Meanwhile, her teacher saw a different trend begun
And called her parents down to show how she was spelling
April with two Ls, tiger with a Y, then ending
Lines with dashes, would not use a capital letter…
So they stopped her nonsense, got her a piano teacher
For there was not just no future in Literature,
It was also mangling her English.
Gwee Li Sui is a poet, a graphic artist, and a literary critic. His works of verse include Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998), One Thousand and One Nights (2014), The Other Merlion and Friends (2015), and Who Wants to Buy an Expanded Edition of a Book of Poems? (2015). He wrote Singapore’s first full-length graphic novel in English, Myth of the Stone (1993), which has since been re-released in an expanded twentieth-anniversary edition. A familiar name in Singapore’s literary scene, he has written and lectured on a range of cultural subjects. He wrote FEAR NO POETRY!: An Essential Guide to Close Reading (2014) and edited Sharing Borders: Studies in Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian Literature II (2009), Telltale: Eleven Stories (2010), Man/Born/Free: Writings on the Human Spirit from Singapore (2011), and Singathology: 50 New Writings by Celebrated Singaporean Writers (2015).